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Georgia Scenes (Southern Classics Series) Paperback – April 1, 1992
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A college president and advocate for states' rights and slavery, Augustus Baldwin Longstreet is also considered an early Southern humorist. According to the introduction in my 1957 edition by B. R. McElderry Jr. he may have influenced Mark Twain, born the year "Georgia Scenes" saw publication. You see a thread, anyway. Longstreet's focus is on capturing the ways various types of people talk, with long dialogues and minute descriptions of assorted oddities. But his inventiveness is much less than Twain's, and his humor is of a long-winded, observational kind rather than the cutting one-liners Twain excelled at. Reading Longstreet is tiring that way.
A good example is a sketch in this book praised at the time by Edgar Allan Poe. "The Debating Society" features a pair of bright young men who decide to play a trick on their debating club by coming up with a proposition that makes no sense to perplex their fellow club members: "WHETHER, AT PUBLIC ELECTIONS, SHOULD THE VOTES OF FACTION PREDOMINATE BY INTERNAL SUGGESTIONS OR THE BIAS OF JURISPRUDENCE?" For the next few pages, I struggled over a brick wall of doubletalk. That it's not supposed to make sense makes Longstreet's somewhat turgid style only harder reading than usual.
Many of the sketches here involve pranks of various kinds, which Longstreet reports on as an interested observer.Read more ›